Home > Shame (Ruin #3)

Shame (Ruin #3)
Author: Rachel Van Dyken


Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords: but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain. —Samuel Johnson


“TELL ME YOU love me!” he screamed, fists clenched. He was high on pills; then again, he was always high on pills.

“Tay…” I licked my lips and tried to maintain a sense of calm. “…get down.”

He threw his head back and laughed. “No, no, no, I don’t think so, not until you tell me!” He moved to the ledge of the bridge and leaned over, laughing, swaying, and dipping his feet below the edge, making a giant joke out of nearly killing himself. He turned quickly, almost falling. I gasped, and he righted himself and stared me down, his face twisting with rage. “Say it.”


“Say it, damn it! Say you love me! Say it, say it, say it, say it!” His voice went hoarse from screaming as he pounded his chest.

Things hadn’t always been like this.

I used to think we were in love.

I used to think our relationship was… just passionate.

“I’m going to jump if you don’t say it, Mel.” His smile was cruel. “Do you really want that on your conscience for the rest of your pretty life? Do you even realize who I am? What my death would do to you?” He laughed again as tears streamed down his face. “I may as well be a god to you. That’s how much I own you. I’ll always own you.”

“Tay...” I stepped forward, my heels clicking against the cement. “…I love you, I love you so much, now please…” my voice shook, “please just get down.”

“I always knew this moment would come.” He went completely still; the wind blew his dark, wavy hair across his forehead. “When I wouldn’t be able to control it anymore, when you’d finally try to run away,” he sneered. “When you’d lie to my face!”

I shook my head, panic rising in my chest. He’d always been dramatic, controlling, bat-shit crazy, but recently he’d been threatening to kill himself more and more. He’d almost succeeded the month before. “Taylor, please baby, I love you. I can’t live without you!” I held out my hands in front of me. “Just come off the ledge.”

He threw his head back and laughed, almost losing his footing. “It’s hilarious how much I control you. I’m going to ruin your life, you know that?”

“Taylor!” I yelled. “This isn’t funny! This isn’t a game. Just get down!”

He did a little jig on the ledge and laughed harder. “I took care of everything, you know… everyone will find out. I took notes. It was too easy… too easy to take you, but you made me feel, and I don’t want to feel, Mel. Not anymore. It hurts too bad. But you know what? In a bit it won’t hurt anymore, and I’ll be happy knowing that I’ll haunt you for the rest of your life. You see, even in my death, your soul is mine. Your body is mine.”

His smile was cruel. I fought the urge to throw up as each word pounded into my brain — as absolute truth.

“I own you,” he whispered. “One more chance, Mel. Do you love me?”

His head tilted so far to the right I thought he would lose his balance.

In that moment, the hate won over the fear. I was so tired of being afraid, so tired of being controlled, just so, so tired.

“No,” I whispered. “I hate you.”

He closed his eyes and whispered, “Finally,” before falling backward off the bridge.


Pieces of my life were falling slowly, painfully. Falling like snow falls onto the ground. Frozen pieces dissolving into nothingness as the ground sucks in the water and the process repeats.

More snow falls.

More water soaks in.

And after the snow has fallen.

After the ground has drunk its fill.

All you’re left with is a beautiful landscape of white; the type of white that, as a little kid, you can’t wait to run out and play in.

I used to have that type of excitement. I used to imagine my life was like that, a fresh blanket of snow. I’d always been close to my mom, and whenever it snowed, she was always a fan of making me wait. She said that I needed to be patient, I needed to allow the rest of the world to see the beauty of the snow. So I’d wait, tap my foot, wait some more, complain, and finally, laughing, she’d let me run out into the white perfection.

One day, Mom stopped me. She pointed to the snow and said, “Honey, this is your life, a blank canvas. Follow your destiny and know that each step you take will be another footprint made in the snow, but make the footprints strong. You want them to lead somewhere. You want the footsteps to have meaning.”

I never thought much about her words — I was a kid. All I cared about were snow angels.

And as I grew, I lost interest in the snow. My interest was darkness, not white.

They let me go.

They let me run in the opposite direction.

Funny, because that’s how I found him. He promised to walk along with me in the dark, promised to entertain, promised to be by my side. And I trusted him. So when he told me to do things I knew I shouldn’t…

I did them.

When I wanted to run back to the snow, when I felt like reverting back to that same excitement of childhood, he’d show me one more thing that pulled me to the other side.

He pulled me.

He pushed.

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